During the Great Patriotic War (WWII) Samara was the back up capital of Russia should the government be pushed out of Moscow by the invading Nazi forces. The bunker was built during this time (in 1942). It was built in complete secret by workers working around the clock with the earth removed during the night. The design is apparently based on the metro station Aeroport in Moscow.
To get down to the bottom, there is a lift, but it is only available for workers at the site to use, the rest of us have to use the stairs - and there are quite a lot of them (over 190) as it's 37 metres deep, which is what the height of a 12 storey building would be. According to our guide, the stairs were designed to have the perfect width and depth tread for Stalin. The bunker is also not the best place to visit if you are have claustrophobia as the shaft going down is only 8 metres wide and once you reach the bottom it really doesn't open up that much. Also, it does get a little chilly the lower you go so you may wan to prepare for that.
Having said all that, it is definitely worth visiting. There are two rooms available to see at the bottom - one that was planned to be Stalin's office (designed to look similar to his office in Moscow) and has a phone on the desk that was directly connected to the Kremlin until 1991. The other room was built as a conference room. One the way back up you can stop off at some of the other rooms which have exhibitions showing Russia and Samara during the war including some photos of embassies that moved here when Samara was the alternative captial.
Stalin's bunker is not the easiest place to visit especially during the summer as it tends to get very booked up. It's official open Monday to Friday 11am - 3pm. However, we turned up without having booked on a Sunday and, along with some other people who'd done the same thing, we managed to attach ourselves to the end of a pre-booked tour. It was done very informally and the guide just took cash in hand for this which made it much cheaper than if you officially book.
The Samara Regional Museum is one of the oldest museums in the Volga museum, although the main building is relatively new - it was built in 1989 and has 2500 sq metres of exhibition space. It's rather more modern than most regional museums and has exhibitions that date from pre-historic (including some dinosaur-like skeletons) through to the space age (there's a pretty cool space capsule in the entrance hall). Among some of the things to see are typical animals of the region, a cabinet full of various (clothing) irons through the ages (!), models of typical people of the region and an absolutely huge mural of Lenin's head. It wasn't my favourite thing to do in Samara but some parts of it were pretty interesting and it wasn't expensive.
Lenin (known at the time by his original name of Ulyanov) lived in this house after leaving university in Kazan' from 1890 to 1893. During this time Lenin was preparing to take exams in order to be able to study law at St Petersbury University. It was in Samara that Lenin first became interested in Marxism. The house became a museum in 1940. The house belonged to a merchant family and on the ground floor was a shop and Lenin and his family lived upstairs. The museum is very well-looked after and a ticket will also get you access to the downstairs where they have exhibitions of things of local interest (while we were there, there was a photo exhibition and one of embroidered pictures of local sites). The staff at this museum were really friendly and when we visited the lady at the door came around with us and gave us a lot of interesting information about Lenin's life while in Samara and then took us downstairs and introduced us to the lady who'd done the embroidery. Embroidery may not be my thing but this lady did point out some places that we should visit and give us some information about the town. Tickets cost 50 rubles and the museum is open every day except Sunday from 9.00 - 17.00.
During summer head for the Volga river bank. Samara has kilometers of sandy beaches packed with people that swim, sun-bathe and drink (lots of) beer.
Sit down in one of the many tents, have a beer, eat shashlik and enjoy the sun going down across the river.
This is the Drama Theatre in Samara, an old building actually, built in about 1880, but still looks as a toy house. It's my favourite building in Samara. It is said to include items of two different styles which normally do no wgo together but every time I look at at I am surprised how harmonic and complete it loks!!!
Very attractive and charming i think.
It's in the centre of the city, so you'll find it easily.
The locals are very proud of the Zhiguli Brewery, which was the second industrial facility in the town. You can smell it a mile away. Bring your own bottles to be filled up for 14R per litre. You can buy bottles at the dried fish stand on the eastern side if need be. They have a swanky restaurant and a basic pub on site, and you can find the unfiltered version of Zhigulevskoye there.
This particular stretch of Volga where Samara is located is known for it's many beaches. Some are developed, some are not. Some are maintained, some are not. To the west of the Zhiguli Brewery a large strip of developed, maintained beach is a huge magnet on sunny summer days. There's a huge line of beer tents along the boardwalk above the beach and you can kill an afternoon walking, drinking, eating and watching rather effortlessly.
I took an afternoon walk along the Embankment by the Volga River. The weather was still a bit wintery, with just hints of the coming spring, but there was quite a crowd enjoying the day along the river. I hear that during the summer, the embankment is lined with tons of cafes and vendors, but there are a few cafes available even in the off-season. It is amazing that Samara is basically built up along one side of the river and the other side is almost empty. During the Soviet era, Samara was an important military center and supported the space program, so as part of the policy of keeping Samara a ?closed city,? no bridges were built. You have to travel 50km or so to find the first bridge. Locals take ferries across during the summer, or actually drive across the frozen river in winter.
Conveniently on one of the main streets in the center of town, the Samara Art Museum offers plenty for art lovers to see while visiting. The permanent collection includes a section devoted to local artists. And there is a large section of Russian paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Particularly interesting to me was the collection of modern Russian avant garde works. These colorful works are also in the best lit rooms in the museum, with large windows looking out onto the street. There are also rooms for temporary exhibitions. Once I saw was devoted to cartoon art from the Russian-Japanese wars. Interesting to see how the Russians stereotyped their Japanese enemy.
Kubychev is the original name of Samara. The statue in front of the Ballet building is Kubychev himself. The Square is home to a market every Sunday and was the scene of many military parades during wartime.
The Volga River is a spectacular site at most points along its 3700 km length. This photo is taken from in front of the 'White House' looking across the Volga to the Zhiguli Mountains. It was taken in Autumn.
A walk along the Volga river. The nearby mountains the families with children, the people with dogs and the nutty people that strip down to their birthday suits in the middle of winter and swim in the river are all great for people watching!
Unfortunatly, just like the town itself, the Volga is in a state of 'disrepair'. With garbage, glass and even an old burned out car littering the embankment. But if you are able to overlook this, the scenery is spectacular and the river itself is amazing.
There are concerts held here in the summer, and what appears to be a small amusement park as well.
This Statue is located on the hill next to the 'White House', Samara's City Hall. There are great views of the Volga River and Zhiguly Mountains from here.
No Russian city is complete without its own Philharmonic Orchestra. The Samaran group is located in this building in the old part of the city. Tram lines run directly in front of this building.